But ... We Are The Fun Morning Show .... We Don't Do "Serious''!!!!!!
May 29, 2012
Backtrack for a moment to September 2001...........
I was in Australia looking after a number of entertainment driven morning shows. One in particular was hugely successful with its mix of fun banter, games and generally upbeat mood. I recall, the team even hated a mid tempo song for fear that it would lessen the 'fun factor' on the show.
The September 11 attacks hit late in the evening in Australia.
The next morning.........I had breakfast shows calling me saying "We'd prefer not to go on air today. We can't reflect what has happened. It's just not us!!!" True Story..... and I still hear examples of this kind of thinking today.
Sure, you can be the "fun and entertaining morning show," but you simply cannot ignore real life happenings, and on occasion....you chase them!
I'd like to talk about some great radio I heard in Australia recently.Â It was on a CHR breakfast show, targeting 15-34 year olds.
A caller was put to air, unannounced. Her name was Alexis, a 23 year old single woman.
This is her story...
The week prior, Alexis had accompanied her 45 year old mum, Kathy from North Brisbane, to receive her test results from her local General Practitioner/Doctor.
Kathy has suffered from chronic bronchitis and what is known as 'smoker's cough' for as long as she can remember. She’s been smoking for a long time.
What has been happening to Kathy is that the smoke has been irritating her lungs, and this has lead to an overproduction of mucus. It’s also paralysed the cilia - tiny hair-like structures that line the airways and clean out dust and dirt. Paralysis of the cilia has resulted in mucus and toxic substances accumulating, resulting in congestion of Kathy’s lungs.
This is hardly breaking news!
Kathy was told late in 2009 that long term exposure of the lungs to the irritants in tobacco smoke destroys the normal lung structure. The elastic walls of the small airways within the lungs are broken down. This reduces the amount of lung tissue available for the transfer of oxygen from the air to the blood.
She was warned. Give up smoking now or face the consequences.
She didn’t. Â Her condition has now worsened and recently, Kathy was diagonised with Emphysema.
Some degree of emphysema is found in almost all people who are long-term smokers, however the severity depends on the amount of cigarettes smoked, and the number of years the individual smokes.
For Kathy it’s been 50 cigarettes a day for 20 plus years.
So - D-Day had arrived and her specialist had forwarded her results including lung x- rays and scans to her local doctor (Dr Tom Harley) to deliver the news.
Kathy was told she has irreversible damage to the lung tissue.
If she did nothing and continued to smoke, she would be dead in a year. This was the best Dr Harley could offer her, but, if Kathy tossed in the smokes right now, up to three years was possible.
Now, fast forward just over a week, and Alexis, one of Kathy’s three daughters was live on the air.
It was Thursday at 8.05 am.
What do you do she said to the breakfast duo, when your mum is told she has a year to live if she does not give up smoking now, yet despite all the pleading from members of the family, including a video from her 6 year old grand-daughter Chelsea, she’s still smoking?
Alexis was highly emotional, ‘’she just doesn’t get it, doesn’t she want to be around for us or the grandchildren’’. The hopelessness in her voice was chilling.
This was the dilemma facing Brisbane radio listeners.
Alexis spoke for 5 minutes. She cried, she got angry and pleaded with her mum. Thousands listened - astounded at this airing of an emotion laden private family drama.
So - as a fun CHR morning show, what do you do in this situation?
Most stations would not have put Alexis to air. Â After all, what relevance is Alexis or Kathy’s plight to a 22 year old listening to a CHR whilst on the way to work right?
I guess most stations wouldn’t have opened the phones either, or got Kathy on the phone to face her daughter, or had listeners taking Kathy to task about her selfishness and indeed her suitability as a mother and grandmother.Â
It just doesn’t make sense to put real life on the air - or does it?
Better than a song? Â You bet!!
I'd like to suggest that you have 'this discussion' with your team.
It's this reflection of real life that builds a unique bond with listeners.
I love this quote from Lee Abrams.............."Ask a listener why they listen to station x...........if they respond that the music is good, that's a red flag" .
Potentially, anyone can out music you, but it's tough to beat you if you are the station that delivers compelling content that engages the audience and forces talk and recall. Go inside people's lives, find out what turns them on, and make a difference by touching their emotions with mystery, sensuality and intimacy.